Ethiopia 28, The falasha village


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Beta Israel, or House of Israel, is the term for Ethiopia’s indigenous Jewish community. The Jews are also called Falasha or “outsiders” in Ge’ez, the liturgical language of Ethiopian Christians and Jews. It is here, in the rolling green hills of Gondar, that a distinctive Ethiopian Jewish community of craftsmen and shepherds once thrived. They claimed to derive from the tribe of Dan, one of the lost 10 biblical tribes, although this claim remains historically disputed

The Israeli Bureau of Statistics estimates that 78,000 Falasha have immigrated to Israel since 1980. There they have greater political freedoms and personal opportunities, but they also face racism and economic marginalization, a stain on the Ethiopian exodus story

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Ethiopia 28, The falasha village

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Gondar is a town founded in 1636 by the great Emperor Fassiladas, serving as the royal capital of Ethiopia for over 230 years. Around 6km north of Gondar several ‘Star of David’ and ‘Falasha Village’ signs point the way to what would be better described as the former Falasha village of Wolleka. Once the homes to a thriving population of Falashas or Ethiopian Jews, most were airlifted to Israel between 1985 and 1991 and today only couples remain. Sadly, the pottery for which they were once famous has degenerated into Wolleka
  3. 3. After the adoption of Christianity as the state religion, Falashas had their land confiscated for refusing to convert. To survive, many became skilled craftsmen. Recent research suggests Falashas may have provided the labour for the castle’s construction and decoration. The highlight of a trip here is to grab a glimpse of highland village life rather than Jewish monuments or culture.
  4. 4. Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews are the names of Jewish communities located in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires (Habesha or Abyssinia), currently divided between Amhara and Tigray regions. Beta Israel lived in North and North- Western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, among populations that were Muslim and predominantly Christian.
  5. 5. Most of them were concentrated in the area around Lake Tana and north of it. The Beta Israel made renewed contacts with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century. After Halakhic and constitutional discussions, Israeli officials decided on March 14, 1977 that the Israeli Law of Return applied to the Beta Israel.
  6. 6. The Israeli and American governments mounted aliyah operations to transport the people to Israel. These activities included Operation Brothers in Sudan between 1979 and 1990 (this includes the major operations Moses and Joshua), and in the 1990s from Addis Ababa (which includes Operation Solomon).
  7. 7. It is a small village until recently inhabited by a Jewish population that remained from ancient times in the region. These Ethiopian Jews, who lived isolated for centuries, were welcomed into the 80s by Israel where moved mostly-the same thing happened with the Yemenite Jews. Wolleka Today, few remember these ceramic tallercitos Jewish roots with black figures of King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba or Stars of David.
  8. 8. As one moves down the road, the people who are on the road are clearly poorer than they have been in the flat in the region of Lake Tana and around Gondar and probably reflect greater isolation suffered region.
  9. 9. This may be same village of the Bet Israel that Samuel Gobat visited in 1830; although he does not name the village, from his account the village he visited was clearly close enough to Gondar for him to travel there, speak to several of its inhabitants, then return to Gondar all in the same day.
  10. 10. Simien Mountains
  11. 11. Sound: Taem - Ethiopian instrumental music Text: Internet Pictures: Paola Barbuti Daniel Scrãdeanu Jean Moldovan Sanda Foişoreanu Sanda Negruţiu Alin Samochis Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foi oreanuş